Cleaning Copper Right After You Cook!

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Sara, here

Having received many questions about how to clean copper after using it, I thought I’d include a little how-to here, as well as make a video. Because cleaning is everyone’s favorite topic, right?! At least this isn’t about cleaning a toilet!! Ha!

Anyway, the hardest part for me is getting a brand new polished piece in from the garage and put it on the gas stovetop and turn on the heat. I know my polishing handiwork will immediately react to the heat and the oxygen and begin to grow that copper patina so cherished by so many. It will also get some general marks on the bottom that come from sitting close to the burner, which usually resembles some sort of star-like pattern.

Some like these marks on their copper and the darkness that slowly builds on the copper exterior (which is true of both tin and stainless lined copper pots). They love how it shows how beloved the copper is, how well-loved and well-used, and that maybe it shows a cook knows how to use their kitchen and cooking tools!

However, there are others who like to keep their copper looking as shiny as a brand new penny. And that’s OK too, and definitely has merits – such as an artistic kitchen, or that a cook knows how to care or polish their cooking tools! But such continual shine needs some TLC to keep up. It’s not practical to take it out to the copper shop for a turn on the buffing wheel each time – even if everyone had a buffing wheel in their garage like me!

And what about the interior lining? Tin and stainless both require some cleaning as well to stay shiny or just clean in general, and they both come their own set of rules. While there are lots of detailed ways to take care of your copper pots, most of us only have time for the quick and fast (myself among them). So here’s my fast tips to clean a copper pot after cooking!


After cooking in it, wait for the copper cookware to cool on the stove or counter. It should be able to be handled with bare hands, so it doesn’t need to be room temperature or anything, but a natural time to cool of is ideal. This is just like cast iron or ceramics, which can crack under extreme temperature differences. Copper going to extremes stresses the metal, especially if you have stainless lined copper.

When it’s cool enough to handle, use warm water and dish soap and a soft rag to clean the interior and exterior. If you have tin-lined copper, it should come clean pretty quick due to the non-stick qualities of tin. If you have stainless, you may need to scrub a bit more. Don’t use abrasives because that can scratch the interior AND exterior of the pan.

If you have stubborn food, fill the pot with water and more dish soap and bring to a quick simmer. But if you’re cleaning right after using, you shouldn’t need to do this unless you really baked on your meal!

Afterwards, simply dry the interior and exterior with a soft dish cloth. If you want, while it’s still warm but dry, you can rub a bit of flaxseed oil into iron handles. (The hardest part to keep nice will be around the handles in general – but dry as best you can and go for it!)

If you want to keep the copper exterior shiny, there are plenty of ways to do that using ketchup, lemon, vinegar, and the like, which is discussed in another blog post. But otherwise, this is all there is to copper cookware care, no matter the lining or what delicious recipe you cooked up!

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